Helping Families, Communities, Schools and Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event, and the Pennsylvania Senate has worked hard to help residents during this ever-changing crisis. In March, the Senate immediately shifted its agenda to mobilize a response aimed at saving lives and maintaining essential government services.

The Senate approved legislation to provide immediate assistance to keep hospitals running and make more Personal Protective Equipment available to health care workers. We voted to provide more accessible unemployment compensation for workers who lost hours or jobs due to the statewide shutdown of employers, and enacted legislation allocating federal funding for county governments, community service providers, first responders and food banks that have been impacted by the virus. More than $2.6 billion has been allocated to help our families, communities, schools and small businesses during the crisis.

Here is a list of some of the COVID-19 legislation passed by the Pennsylvania Senate this year:

Act 2A of 2020 appropriates Pennsylvania’s federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including funding for county governments, community service providers, first responders and food banks that have been impacted by the virus.

Act 9 of 2020 provides more accessible unemployment compensation for workers who lost hours or jobs due to the statewide shutdown of employers. 

Act 10 of 2020 provides immediate assistance to keep hospitals running and more masks, gloves and Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers.

Act 12 of 2020 (Vogel) postpones the Pennsylvania primary election from April 28, 2020 to June 2, 2020.

Act 15 of 2020 (Martin) ensures local governments can continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic, permitting remote meetings, providing greater flexibility on property tax deadlines, and giving notaries emergency authorization to notarize documents remotely.

Act 17 of 2020 ensures law enforcement, first responders and active duty National Guard members who contract COVID-19 can receive compensation while quarantined or receiving treatment for the virus. 

Act 18 of 2020 extends the amount of time employees have to recertify background checks until December 31 and creates different criteria for initial applicants to work on a temporary basis.

Act 20 of 2020 expedites payments from the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

Act 26 of 2020 (Pittman) appropriates $507 million from Pennsylvania’s share of federal CARES funding to support a variety of programs and services for senior citizens, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and $31 million for a one-time grant program for volunteer fire and EMS companies.

Act 70 of 2020 requires the governor to submit to the General Assembly the plan for COVID-19 testing — including any amendments — that was submitted to the federal government.

Act 75 of 2020 (Martin) gives school districts the option to extend real estate tax discount periods and base periods and removes penalties for payments through June 30, 2021. 

Act 77 of 2020 requires state agencies to respond to requests for public information during an emergency declaration.

Senate Bill 327 (Argall) gives county governments the option to implement plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following federal health guidelines, allowing employers to bring back workers. (Vetoed by governor.)

Senate Bill 613 (Mensch) requires the governor to create clear guidelines for employers to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Vetoed by governor.)

Senate Bill 857 (Vogel) helps more patients access health care during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting the use of telemedicine. (Vetoed by governor.)

Senate Bill 1110 (K. Ward) requires that first responders be notified of COVID-19 cases in their communities.

Senate Bill 1119 Senate Bill 1120 (Baker) provides guidance for the legal system to operate during public emergencies. 

Senate Bill 1166 (K. Ward) provides a voter referendum to amend the state Constitution to require legislative approval of future emergency disaster proclamations beyond 21 days.

Senate Bill 1216 (Langerholc) provides more flexibility in Pennsylvania’s teacher certification process to address issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Resolution 836 terminates the governor’s COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Order and ends the statewide shutdown of employers. (Passed by General Assembly, not enacted by governor.)

House Bill 2388 exempts from the Governor’s Business Closure Order manufacturing, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salons, barber shops, messenger services, agent services, and animal grooming services. (Vetoed by governor.)

House Bill 2412 allows real estate activities to continue with proper safety measures in place. (Vetoed by governor.)